Toulon confirm Paul O’Connell deal

Ireland captain signs two-year deal with Top 14 side

 Paul O’Connell has signed for Toulon, the Top 14 club have confirmed.

Paul O’Connell has signed for Toulon, the Top 14 club have confirmed.

 

With the words of AP McCoy and Brian O’Driscoll ringing in his ears, Paul O’Connell has been confirmed a Toulon player until the summer of 2017.

French media outlets are reporting O’Connell passed the medical where previously they stated a shoulder problem had cast doubt on the move.

The second year remains optional, probably depending on O’Connell’s physical wellbeing after playing a season that follows what promises to be an attritional World Cup campaign with Ireland.

“I definitely don’t see myself doing a Brad Thorn and playing until 40,” he told The Irish Times in April.

Second Captains

“Speed isn’t a massive part of my position. Fitness and being able to get through work is probably the big part of it and maybe age doesn’t affect that as much as it does in other positions.”

“When you are at the top it’s so enjoyable. It’s very hard to walk away and feel good about the decision. It’s very hard to walk away and move on to whatever you are going to do next and not have any regrets.

Midnight deadline

Tonight’s midnight deadline to be registered by a French club prompted Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal to confirm the Limerick man’s signature. It means O’Connell, having been released from his IRFU contract seven months early, will move his young family to the Cote d’Azur in November.

It’s a vital signing for the three-time European champions who bid farewell to a raft of natural born leaders, not to mention world class secondrows, after losing the Top 14 semi-final to Stade Francais.

Following Jonny Wilkinson into retirement are Carl Hayman, the great All Black prop who took over the captaincy, Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams.

O’Connell, 36 in October, listened to friends and family but also fellow Irish sporting icons, McCoy and O’Driscoll, who counselled what he was already thinking: play as long as you can as you’ll never be able to replicate the feeling.

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